Shee Yang, the California State University, Fresno student who died with two other family members in a March 19 fire at their Clovis home, will be awarded a bachelor of arts degree in social work at a private ceremony for the family.

Yang, 22, was in his final semester at Fresno State and had applied for a baccalaureate degree to be conferred at the university’s 95th annual Commencement on May 20.

Dr. Jeronima Echeverria, provost and vice president of academic affairs, approved the posthumous degree upon recommendation of the Social Work Department and the College of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Paul M. Oliaro, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, informed Yang’s family Friday and made a formal announcement Sunday at funeral services. Oliaro, invited by the family to the ceremony, was part of a contingent of university faculty, staff and students from the Social Work Department who attended.

Oliaro indicated that the president’s office would schedule a private ceremony with the family for University President Dr. John D. Welty to formally confer the degree.

The university may award a posthumous degree to a student who dies prior to graduation based on recommendation to the provost from the department chair and school/college dean. Strict criteria are considered to include satisfactory completion of all course requirements to date and determination by faculty that the student was on track to satisfactorily complete class requirements within that semester.

Oliaro emphasized that the conferral of a posthumous degree is not merely a kind gesture because it is awarded only for a fully earned degree based on completion of all requirements.

“With the completion of his degree, Shee Yang will be a role model for other Hmong students, whose dream is to complete a college education,” Oliaro said

Dr. Jane Middleton, Social Work Department chair, said her faculty was proud to declare Yang qualified for the degree.

“Shee overcame significant hardships in his life to become a very good student,” Middleton said. “He was personable and committed to improving the lives of others as well as his family. Shee Yang’s family can be proud of his accomplishments.”

Students awarded posthumous degrees are acknowledged during Commencement by President Welty.

Middleton also said the Social Work Department has extended an invitation to Yang’s parents to attend the departmental ceremony on May19.